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israel - Ashley Jensen HIST 3000 Due Israelite Ethnicity...

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Ashley Jensen HIST 3000 Due 1-28-08 Israelite Ethnicity: Support Through Archaeology and Biblical Text Elizabeth Bloch-Smith’s article explores the existence of a 11 th and 12 th century BCE Israelite ethnicity by examining evidence through several different archaeological and anthropological methods. These include the culture area approach, the meaningful boundaries method, and the tell-tale approach. As distinction as a specific ethnicity becomes difficult to prove she begins differentiating the Israelites from the Philistines to distinguish them as a culture. The article finally concludes that Israelites define their ethnicity through shared memories and a few distinct habits that stood them apart from their highland neighbors. To seek out an ethnicity Bloch-Smith must first define what that means. She reasons that an ethnos is a group with shared interests and institutions, common heritage, and a collective memory. Israelites may identify themselves as sharing the same set of experiences that shape their characters and morals, much like Americans use the American Revolution and other conflicts to unify a very diverse people under the same set of beliefs- freedom, liberty, and equality. Bloch-Smith proposes that a people’s “kinship, territory or select traditions” (Bloch- Smith 403) are as much a part of their ethnicity as a shared diet or similarities in architectural tendencies. The article discusses Geoff Emberling’s ideas on how such elements bind a group. His writes that various migrant groups will create a “history of former unity” (Bloch-Smith 403) to politically and sometimes religiously bind the groups together. Bloch-Smith suggests that Israel did just that and amalgamated itself with several surrounding groups over time and added a bit of each to its collective memory. It may have even affected their religion, noting how the name and
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number of their deities underwent changes. Israel moved from a polytheistic worship of
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